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Image credit: Invaio Sciences

Why Invaio Sciences acquired Peptyde Bio: ‘Peptides represent a major opportunity for biologicals’

December 11, 2023

  • Biotech platform Invaio Sciences has acquired Peptyde Bio, a Missouri-based startup that makes biofungicide tech for agriculture.
  • Working together, the two teams will be able to speed up development of and access to sustainable crop inputs.
  • Peptyde Bio will be fully integrated into the Invaio brand.
  • Financial terms of the deal are not disclosed.
Image credit: Invaio Sciences

‘A quick exit’

Peptyde Bio emerged in 2022 as the first company to come out of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center‘s Danforth Technology Company. From the get-go, a quick exit seemed possible, Tom Laurita, CEO of Danforth Technology Company and interim CEO of Peptyde Bio, tells AgFunderNews.

“We knew when we founded the company that there were several factors working in favor of a quick exit: a strong technology and IP base; support from the Danforth Center; the ability to attract top talent as a Danforth startup; and emerging consensus in industry that peptides represent a major opportunity.”

“That said, there was no certainty that all factors would work together so quickly, so we were ready to grow Peptyde Bio patiently through fund raise rounds,” he adds.

Yajie Niu, chief science officer at Invaio, says her company has been monitoring Peptyde Bio’s progress “for some time” and was very interested in the startup’s peptide-discovery research.

“We could see the potential for our combined complimentary approaches to accelerate the development of biological solutions for crop pests and disease,” she tells AgFunderNews.

Solidifying the pipeline for bioactive discovery

Acquiring Peptyde Bio and its technology “solidifies” Invaio’s bioactive discovery pipeline and platform, says Niu.

Peptyde’s technology platform discovers, designs, and characterizes novel antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that could complement or replace traditional chemical fungicides.

AMPs are typically considered effective, environmentally friendly ways to deliver crop protection, often at a lower cost than traditional fugicides. The Peptyde Bio platform uses AI and in silico experiments to find and test new AMPs and determine their safety profile and manufacturing potential.

“Coupled with our proprietary biological delivery systems — which protect and deliver actives where they’re most needed — we’ll be able to provide growers with crop protection that is both reliable and effective in the field as well as being more sustainable for the environment,” says Niu.

Invaio’s Discovery Engine identifies and designs bioactives that can control pest and disease in various plans including row crops, vegetables and perennials. The company is also focused on its delivery systems that protect the bioactives and target them to the exact problem (e.g., a specific pest or fungal disease).

“We have been making great progress on these and are also well placed to help other companies with their delivery challenges such as increasing performance in the field or adapting how their products are used,” adds Niu.

Laurita, says there is “a strong complimentary” between Peptyde and Invaio technologies.

“Both companies focus on AI/ML-enabled discovery and design,” he notes. “Peptyde Bio has exceptional strength in early discovery, production, design and characterization of novel peptides, an area where Invaio also excels.  Invaio also has developed technology to program and deploy Biological Delivery Systems to improve the performance of actives.”

He adds that working together, the two teams will be able to speed up development of and access sustainable crop inputs

‘An acquisition was the optimal solution’

Laurita says Invaio was “one of many groups” that has approached Peptyde Bio in the last year and a half.

“The opportunity to deploy natural and designed peptides as complements to chemical inputs in ag is widely acknowledged,” he tells AgFunderNews. “PB is recognized as a leader in the discovery, design, and characterization of novel peptides, and has attracted wide industry interest.”

Several industry players reached out to Peptyde Bio with partnership proposals, including Invaio. In fact, the original ideas was for the two companies to conduct a series of projects together.

“As we considered projects with Invaio, both companies discovered that there exist significant synergies between us, and just as importantly, the company cultures are sympatico: strong emphasis on data-driven development, a strategic focus on machine learning design, and respect for all our stakeholders.”

“It became clear that a deeper collaboration made sense to both companies. After intense discussions we decided that an acquisition was the optimal solution.”

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